Théodore Chassériau

Théodore Chassériau (September 20, 1819 – October 8, 1856) was a French Romantic painter noted for his portraits, historical and religious paintings, allegorical murals, and Orientalist images inspired by his travels to Algeria. Early in his career he painted in a Neoclassical style close to that of his teacher Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, but in his later works he was strongly influenced by the Romantic style of Eugène Delacroix. He was a prolific draftsman, and made a suite of prints to illustrate Shakespeare's Othello.

Théodore Chassériau
A self-portrait of Chassériau painted at the age of 16
BornSeptember 20, 1819
DiedOctober 8, 1856 (aged 37)
EducationJean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
MovementRomanticism; Orientalist

Life and work

Chassériau Esther 1841
The Toilette of Esther, 1841, oil on canvas, 45.5 x 35.5 cm, Paris, Louvre

Chassériau was born in El Limón, Samaná, in the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic).[1] His father Benoît Chassériau was a French adventurer who had arrived in Santo Domingo in 1802 to take an administrative position in what was until 1808 a French colony.[2] Theodore's mother, Maria Magdalena Couret de la Blagniére, was the daughter of a mulatto landowner born in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). In December 1820 the family left Santo Domingo for Paris, where the young Chassériau soon showed precocious drawing skill. He was accepted into the studio of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres in 1830, at the age of eleven, and became the favorite pupil of the great classicist, who regarded him as his truest disciple.[3] (An account that may be apocryphal has Ingres declaring "Come, gentlemen, come see, this child will be the Napoleon of painting.")[4]

After Ingres left Paris in 1834 to become director of the French Academy in Rome, Chassériau fell under the influence of Eugène Delacroix, whose brand of painterly colorism was anathema to Ingres. Chassériau's art has often been characterized as an attempt to reconcile the classicism of Ingres with the romanticism of Delacroix.[5] He first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1836, and was awarded a third-place medal in the category of history painting.[6] In 1840 Chassériau travelled to Rome and met with Ingres, whose bitterness at the direction his student's work was taking led to a decisive break. While in Italy, Chassériau made landscape sketches and studied Renaissance frescoes.[7]

1838 Théodore Chasseriau - Venus Anadyomene
Vénus marine dite Vénus Anadyomène, 1838, Paris, Louvre
1840 Chasseriau Theodore - Andromeda Chained to the Rock by the Nereids
Andromède attachée au rocher par les Néréides, 1840, Paris, Louvre
Macbeth and Banquo Meeting the Witches on the Heath, 1855. An example of one of Chassériau's many works inspired by Shakespeare
Théodore Chassériau - The Artist's Sisters - WGA4808
The Two Sisters, 1843, Paris, Louvre
Théodore Chassériau - Reverend Father Dominique Lacordaire - WGA4805
Portrait of Reverend Father Henri-Dominique Lacordaire, 1840, Paris, Louvre
Alexis de tocqueville
Portrait d'Alexis de Tocqueville, 1850

Among the chief works of his early maturity are Susanna and the Elders and Venus Anadyomene (both 1839), Diana Surprised by Actaeon (1840), Andromeda Chained to the Rock by the Nereids (1840), and The Toilette of Esther (1841), all of which reveal a very personal ideal in depicting the female nude.[8] Chassériau's major religious paintings from these years, Christ on the Mount of Olives (a subject he treated in 1840 and again in 1844) and The Descent from the Cross (1842), received mixed reviews from the critics; among the artist's champions was Théophile Gautier. In 1843, Chassériau painted murals depicting the life of Saint Mary of Egypt in the Church of Saint-Merri in Paris, the first of several commissions he received to decorate public buildings in Paris.[7]

Portraits from this period include the Portrait of the Reverend Father Dominique Lacordaire, of the Order of the Predicant Friars (1840), and The Two Sisters (1843), which depicts Chassériau's sisters Adèle and Aline.

Throughout his life he was a prolific draftsman; his many portrait drawings executed with a finely pointed graphite pencil are close in style to those of Ingres.[9] He also created a body of 29 prints, including a group of eighteen etchings of subjects from Shakespeare's Othello in 1844.[10]

He exhibited the colossal portrait Ali-Ben-Hamet, Caliph of Constantine and Chief of the Haractas, Followed by his Escort in the Salon of 1845, where it received equivocal reviews. In 1846, Chassériau made his first trip to Algeria. From sketches made on this and subsequent trips he painted such subjects as Arab Chiefs Visiting Their Vassals and Jewish Women on a Balcony (both 1849, now in the Louvre). A major late work, The Tepidarium (1853, in the Musée d'Orsay), depicts a large group of women drying themselves after bathing, in an architectural setting inspired by the artist's trip in 1840 to Pompeii. His most monumental work was his decoration of the grand staircase of the Cour des Comptes, commissioned by the state in 1844 and completed in 1848. He followed the example of Delacroix in executing this work in oil on plaster, rather than in fresco.[7] This work was heavily damaged in May 1871 by a fire set during the Commune, and only fragments could be recovered; these are preserved in the Louvre.

After a period of ill health, exacerbated by his exhausting work on commissions for murals to decorate the Churches of Saint-Roch and Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Chassériau died at the age of 37 in Paris, on October 8, 1856. He is buried in the Montmartre Cemetery.


His work had a significant impact on the style of Puvis de Chavannes and Gustave Moreau, and—through those artists' influence—reverberations in the work of Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.[11] There is in Paris a Society for the painter: Association des Amis de Théodore Chassériau.

Works of Chassériau are in the Musée du Louvre where a room is dedicated to him, in the Musée d'Orsay, and in the Musée de Versailles. Collections in the United States holding works by Théodore Chassériau include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University, the National Gallery of Art of Washington, D.C., the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Museum of the Art Rhode Island School of Design, The J. Paul Getty Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Selected works


Chassériau - Comtesse de La Tour-Maubourg (née Marie-Louise-Charlotte-Gabrielle Thomas de Pange, 1816–1850)

Portrait de la comtesse de La Tour Maubourg, 1841, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Théodore Chassériau - Peace - WGA4804

Peace, Protector of the Arts and of the Tilling of the Soil, 1844–1848, oil on plaster transferred to canvas. A surviving fragment of the Cour des Comptes decorations.

Othello and Desdemona in Venice by Théodore Chassériau

Othello and Desdemona in Venice, 1850, oil on wood, 25 x 20 cm, Louvre, Paris. Another work inspired by Shakespeare

'Scene in the Jewish Quarter of Constantine' by Théodore Chassériau, 1851

Scene in the Jewish Quarter of Constantine, 1851, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Théodore Chassériau - Orientalist Interior - Nude in a Harem - WGA04803

Orientalist Interior, ca. 1851–1852, oil on wood, 49 x 39 cm

Théodore Chassériau - Tepidarium - Google Art Project

Tepidarium, 1853, oil on canvas, Musée d'Orsay

Théodore Chassériau - Portrait of Mme Borg de Balsan

Portrait of Mme Borg de Balsan, 1847, pencil on paper, Philadelphia Museum of Art

CHASSERIAU Théodore,1844 - Portrait de Lamartine - drawing (dessin, disegno)

Portrait d'Alphonse de Lamartine, 1844, pencil on paper

L'Enfant & la poupée, portrait de Laure Stéphanie Pierrugues par Théodore Chassériau (1836)

The Child & the doll, portrait of Laure Stéphanie Pierrugues, 1836, oil on canevas, 79,5 x 57 cm

See also


  1. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, p. 163.
  2. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, pp. 58, 163.
  3. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, p. 168.
  4. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, pp. 60, 168.
  5. ^ Rosenblum 1989, p. 32.
  6. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, p. 170.
  7. ^ a b c Rosenthal.
  8. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, p. 53.
  9. ^ Prat 1989, p. 5.
  10. ^ Fisher 1979, p. 13.
  11. ^ Guégan et al. 2002, p. 287.


  • Fisher, Jay M. (1979). Théodore Chassériau: Illustrations for Othello. Baltimore: The Baltimore Museum of Art. ISBN 0-912298-50-2.
  • Guégan, Stéphane; Pomarède, Vincent; Prat, Louis-Antoine (2002). Théodore Chassériau, 1819-1856: The Unknown Romantic. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 1-58839-067-5.
  • Miller, Peter Benson (2004). "By the Sword and the Plow: Théodore Chassériau's Cour des Comptes Murals and Algeria," The Art Bulletin vol. 86, no. 4 (Dec. 2004), pp. 690–718.
  • Prat, Louis-Antoine. n.d. Theodore Chassériau, 1819-1856: dessins conserves en dehors du Louvre. Paris: Galerie de Bayser [1989?]. OCLC 800724906.
  • Rosenblum, Robert (1989). Paintings in the Musée d'Orsay. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. ISBN 1-55670-099-7.
  • Rosenthal, Donald A. "Chassériau, Théodore". Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.

Further reading

  • Bénédite, Léonce (1931). Théodore Chassériau: sa vie et son œuvre, Paris: Les Éditions Braun. OCLC 929584128.
  • Bouvenne, Aglaus (1884). Théodore Chassériau: Souvenirs et Indiscrétions, A. Detaille, Paris.
  • Bouvenne, Aglaus. Théodore Chassériau : Souvenirs et Indiscrétions (1884), new edition by Les Amis de Théodore Chassériau, 2012 (French language), 2013 (Spanish language).
  • Chevillard, Valbert (1893). Un peintre romantique: Théodore Chassériau, Paris.
  • Chevillard, Valbert (1898). "Théodore Chassériau" in Revue de l'art ancien et moderne, no. 3, March 10, 1898.
  • La Chronique des arts et de la curiosité, no. 9, February 27, 1897.
  • Focillon, Henri (1927). "La peinture au XIXe: Le retour à l'antique" in Le Romanticisme, Paris.
  • Gautier, Théophile. "L'Atelier de feu Théodore Chassériau" in L'Artiste, no. 14, March 15, 1857.
  • Goodrich, Lloyd (1928). "Théodore Chassériau", The Arts 14.
  • d'Hérouville, Xavier (2016). L'Idéal moderne selon Charles Baudelaire & Théodore Chassériau, L'Harmattan, Paris.
  • Jingaoka, Megumi; Pomarède, Vincent; Nouvion, Jean-Baptiste; Guégan, Stéphane; Okasaka, Sakurako; Nakatsumi, Yuko (2017). Théodore Chassériau : Parfum exotique, [exhibition catalogue], The National Museum of Western Art (Japan).
  • Laran, Jean (1913, 1921). Théodore Chassériau, Paris.
  • Montesquiou, Robert de (1898). Alice et Aline, une peinture de Théodore Chassériau, Ed. Charpentier et Fasquelle, Paris.
  • Nouvion, André-Pierre (2007). Trois familles en Périgord-Limousin dans la tourmente de la Révolution et de L'Empire : Nouvion, Besse-Soutet-Dupuy et Chassériau, Paris.
  • Nouvion, Jean-Baptiste; Marianne de Tolentino (2014). Chassériau Correspondance oubliée. Les Amis de Théodore Chassériau edition, Paris.
  • Peltre, Christine (2001). Théodore Chassériau. Paris: Gallimard. ISBN 207011564X.
  • Prat, Louis-Antoine (1988). Dessins de Théodore Chassériau: 1819–1856. Paris: Ministère de la culture et de la communication, Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux. ISBN 2711821382.
  • Renan, Ary (1897). Les Peintres orientalistes, Galerie Durand-Ruel.
  • Sandoz, Marc (1974). Théodore Chassériau 1819–1856: catalogue raisonné des peintures et estampes. Paris : Arts et Métiers Graphiques. ISBN 2700400038.
  • Teupser, Werner. Theodore Chasseriau, Zeitschrift für Kunst.
  • Vaillat, Léandre (August 1913). "L'Œuvre de Théodore Chassériau", Les Arts.
  • Vaillat, Léandre (1907). "Chassériau", L'Art et les Artistes.

External links

1819 in France

Events from the year 1819 in France.

1819 in art

Events in the year 1819 in Art.

1821 in art

Events in the year 1821 in Art.

1835 in art

Events from the year 1835 in art.

1840 in art

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1842 in art

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1843 in art

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1850 in art

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1855 in art

Events from the year 1855 in art.

1856 in France

Events from the year 1856 in France.

1856 in art

Events from the year 1856 in art.

Aline Chassériau

Aline Chassériau is an 1835 oil on canvas painting by French romantic artist Théodore Chassériau, which represents Aline Chassériau (1822–1871), the painter's younger sister. Once owned by the artist's brother Frédéric, it was given to the Musée du Louvre by Baron Arthur Chassériau and his wife in 1918.Aline (born Geneviève) Chassériau posed for this portrait when she was thirteen years of age, and the painter sixteen. In a nearly monochromatic design, Aline is depicted standing in front of a dark background. She wears a brown cloak with a white collar, and looks directly at the viewer with her hands crossed before her. The expression is somber, the handling of light assured. Influences for this refined technique of the portrait include Ingres, with whom Chassériau had recently studied, and Italian Renaissance masters Raphael and Bronzino.

It had long been thought that the model for this painting was Chassériau's older sister Adèle, but pencil drawings of Aline, as well as renewed attention to the visual evidence—the subject is adolescent, and Adèle was twenty five at the time—have corrected the misconception. Chassériau frequently used his siblings, especially his sisters, as models for drawing and painting. As a young man, his relationship to his sisters has been described as so close as to have been "almost amorous". Chassériau's first mistress, Clémence Monnerot, later recalled: "Adèle, Aline and I were Théodore's models for many years. He drew at night under lamplight and posed us as he liked. Adèle has superb arms; they appear everywhere....They are, too, young ladies, his two idealized sisters and their friend, whom he worshipped".Her father Benoît Chassériau was a French diplomat, French spy and Minister of the Interior of Simón Bolívar in Cartagena, Colombia.

Aline did not marry, and died in 1871 during the Paris Commune in Bordeaux.

Arthur Chassériau

Baron Arthur Nedjma Chassériau (1850, Algiers – 1934, Paris) was a French stockbroker, art lover and art collector, most notable as a major donor to the Musée du Louvre. He was the son of Charles Frédéric Chassériau, chief architect of Algiers, thus making him first cousin to the painter Théodore Chassériau - one of Arthur's donations to the Louvre was Aline Chassériau, Théodore's painting of his younger sister. He was a knight of the Légion d'honneur and a recipient of the Médaille coloniale and the Médaille commémorative de la guerre 1870-1871.

Benoît Chassériau

Benoît Chassériau (also known as Benito Chassériau or Chasserieux; 19 August 1780 – 27 September 1844) was a French diplomat, French spy and Minister of the Interior of Cartagena, Colombia, comrade in arms of Simón Bolívar. He was the father of the artist Théodore Chassériau.

Charles Frédéric Chassériau

Baron Charles Frédéric Chassériau (1802, Port-au-Prince, Saint-Domingue – 1896, Vars-sur-Roseix, France) was a French architect, who served as chief architect of the cities of Marseille, Constantine and Algiers.

He was the son of the Napoleonic general Victor Frédéric Chassériau and the father of three children, including the art collector Arthur Chassériau. His other relatives included the painter Théodore Chassériau, whose 1846 portrait of Charles Frédéric's wife Joséphine is now in the Art Institute of Chicago.

Prosper Marilhat

Antoine-George-Prosper Marilhat, usually known as Prosper Marilhat, (26 March 1811 – 13 September 1847) was a French Orientalist painter. Many of his most successful works were based on the sketches he drew during the time he spent in Egypt in 1831–1832.

Self-portrait (Chassériau)

Self-Portrait, or Portrait of the Artist in a Redingote, is an 1835 oil-on-canvas painting by French romantic artist Théodore Chassériau, which was painted when the artist was 16. It is currently housed at the Musée du Louvre.

One of the few self-portraits Chassériau painted, Portrait of the Artist in a Redingote shows him standing and facing left, one hand concealed within his black jacket, a small book held within his other hand, at rest upon a red tablecloth. In the background is a gray-green wall, upon which hangs a palette in the upper left corner. The painter's pose is elegant, and his gaze has been described as "astonishingly young, and at the same time, weary".Although the painting has been compared to classical and contemporary prototypes—portraits by Raphael, Bronzino, Titian, and Ingres have been cited as inspirations—the painting is consistent with a series of portraits of family members painted by Chassériau in his youth. The portrait is a frank portrayal of Chassériau's unattractive features, much commented upon during his life: Alice Ozy, later his mistress, referred to him as "the monkey". By comparison, a self-portrait of 1838, also in the Louvre, appears more idealized.

The Toilette of Esther

The Toilette of Esther or Esther Preparing to be Presented to King Ahasuerus, is an 1841 oil-on-canvas painting by Théodore Chassériau. The painting depicts a moment from the scriptural Book of Esther, when Esther prepared to meet King Ahasuerus, ruler of Persia, who subsequently took her as his wife. The painting is in the Musée du Louvre. Vincent Pomarède of the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon has described it as "one of the most famous (paintings) in the Louvre".

The Two Sisters (Chassériau painting)

The Two Sisters is an 1843 oil painting on canvas by the French romantic artist Théodore Chassériau. Completed when the artist was twenty-three years of age, it depicts Chassériau's sisters Adèle and Aline. It is housed in the Musée du Louvre in Paris, France.

The work is a product of Chassériau's early maturity, when he was eager to demonstrate his independence form his former master, J.A.D. Ingres, with whom he had had a falling-out in 1840. When the painting was exhibited in the Salon of 1843, the response of the critics and the public was mixed. One critic, Louis Peisse, wrote:M. Chassériau wanted, perhaps unnecessarily, to undertake a difficult thing, to do a painting with two figures of women, both full length, of the same height, both in dresses of the same color and the same fabric, with the same shawl, posed in the same manner, and to sustain that gamble of sorts without using any artifice of light or effect, solely through the authority of style, form, and character. Did he succeed adequately? I do not think so. Nevertheless, he executed that tour de force with a resolution and skill that deserved to prevail.

Although the representation of the identically dressed sisters suggests twinship, Adèle (on the left) was thirty-three and Aline (on the right) was twenty-one when they posed for the portrait.By the time of Chassériau's death in 1856, The Two Sisters was regarded as one of his most important works. It entered the collection of the Louvre in 1918.

Theologians and
Visual artists

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